KALAMAZOO – Despite being outshot 38-23, the Western Michigan Broncos (11-8-1, 5-5-0 NCHC) completed the sweep of the No. 13 Miami Redhawks (9-9-2, 3-7-0 NCHC), by a score of 3-2 Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd at Lawson Ice Arena.
Nolan LaPorte tallied the game-winning goal after blocking a shot and scoring on the ensuing breakaway. The sophomore also recorded an assist in Saturday’s game for the Broncos.
Frank Slubowski was stellar in net for Western Michigan, recording 36 saves including a game-saving stop with 8.2 seconds left. After the game, Broncos captain Chase Balisy described the final flurry in front the net that preserved the win for the Broncos.
“I took one off the skate first, and then I saw it go to the other side [of the net],” he said. “Frank was out of position, so I just dove behind him, but he made the save and was laughing about it afterward.”
Riley Barber (Livonia) scored both goals for the Redhawks on Saturday, increasing his season total to 14. Barber now leads the NCHC in points with 12 (six goals, six assists).
Jay Williams got the start for Miami and stopped 20 Bronco shots. Austin Czarnik (Washington) was scratched from Saturday’s game after being injured the previous night, which was a big blow for the visiting team, as Czarnik is second on the team in points with 28 (nine goals,19 assists).
Western Michigan didn’t make it easy on themselves, tallying 31 penalty minutes, but they shut down Miami’s power-play units, who was 0-8 with the man-advantage.
“We took some unnecessary penalties and that’s my responsibility and so we’ll talk about that,” Broncos Head Coach Andy Murray, said. “Our penalty kill was outstanding and we tested it way too much tonight and way too much last night, so we need to certainly play with a lot more discipline.
After the game, Murray described his team’s performance on Saturday night as “gutsy” and didn’t buy into the idea of having momentum either.
“Every game stands on its own,” he said. “I don’t like coaches that say we have momentum because what’s momentum? Is that something you give somebody? You have to go out and establish your credibility in every game.”
Balisy carried over the special teams play from Friday night with a shorthanded goal just 2:01 into the first period. A Miami defender lost the puck behind the net and Laporte found the Broncos captain for his second shorthanded goal of the weekend.
“I thought Chase Balisy and Nolan LaPorte had outstanding weekends,” Murray said. “Not only killing penalties as a pair, but I thought there five-on-five play was real solid as well.”
Taylor Fleming recorded his first collegiate goal after the puck squirted out to the slot and he let a slap shot go to give the Broncos the lead again. Mike Cichy and Kenney Morrison assisted on the freshman’s goal.
Although Murray was happy to pick up the six points in conference play, he did say their was room for improvement after this weekend.
“We have a lot of players, in my opinion, that can play better than they did this weekend,” Murray said. “We need to notch it up, because we are going to play a top-3 team at St. Cloud next weekend but its a challenge and every one of our remaining games is going to be tough and we have to be ready.”
The Broncos extended their winning steak to four, and five of the last six games.